Indonesian state-owned energy corporation Pertamina has partnered with speciality chemical company Clariant on the potential use of oil palm biomass in advanced biofuels.

The two companies had been working together since 2018 to evaluate and test the feasibility of Clariant’s sunliquid technology to process regional feedstocks in Indonesia into cellulosic ethanol, Clariant said on 19 April.

Indonesia had a vast potential of untapped biomass, from empty fruit bunches to palm leaves that could be converted into cellulosic ethanol, Clariant said.

Ethanol demand was expected to surge in Indonesia largely due to a nationwide E10 ethanol blending mandate, the company added.

In the initial stages of the partnership, the focus was on techno-economic performance analysis, and the testing of empty fruit bunches and palm leaves. The final results of the assessments proved that the sunliquid technology could convert both feedstocks into cellulosic ethanol while achieving a good conversion yield.

A recent study had quantified process balance, facility specification, and process economics, Clariant said.

“We are strengthening our business portfolio by producing green fuel, such as biodiesel, green aviation fuel, and bioethanol using palm residues that are abundant in Indonesia,” said Pertamina's vice president of downstream research and technology innovation Andianto Hidayat.

In line with this policy, the company was currently building two green refineries, Hidayat added.

The realisation of commercial-scale, advanced biofuels projects based on regionally available feedstocks could help Indonesia become more independent from foreign fossil fuel imports and secure its national energy supply, according to Clariant.